Thursday, July 24, 2014

On the Home Front in Netanya

This was sent by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum as a Shearim newsletter. Shearim is a Russian outreach program in Netanya started by Rabbi Birnbaum.

Dear Friends,

I am inclined to believe that there is no true Jew in the world, certainly none in Israel, whose tension-level did not increase in the course of the last week. I had a dozen phone calls yesterday alone from supporters and friends of Shearim Netanya who are asking what they could do to help in the situation.

The Pikkud Ha'oref (Home Command) invited me yesterday for an emergency meeting. The lieutenant-colonel in charge of the Home Command had only one point on his agenda. Make sure to maintain your people's alertness to the dangers lurking on the horizon. Hamas may be reserving a select group of rockets for a last blast as a cease-fire will be forced upon the field of battle. Please note this possibility and act accordingly. Although Netanya had only one siren-warning during the 16 days of hostilities, we, as well as the whole country are viewed as a battlefield. Therefore, friends, do not allow yourself to relax your alertness.

After the head of the Netanya Home Command closed his topic, he asked us, the five invited chairmen of organizations, for our reactions to the situation. It soon became clear that a large number of people city-wide are craving for opportunities to make their input felt in the crisis. I reported to the small group that one of my members is even ready to drive to the frontline to deliver packages for the soldiers.

The following conclusions could be drawn from the discussion:

(1) What the soldiers need now most is underwear, socks, soap, deodorant, small towel, towelettes, toothbrush, small toothpaste. Add a package or two of potato chips and similar. Attach a small, neat note in the language most familiar to you expressing your gratitude for his/her saving work on behalf of our People and Land, wishing the soldier well and a safe return home. Sign the note giving your name, address, cell/phone number.

Place it all in a box closed by scotch-tape and deliver to Shearim office Sunday or Monday. We will take care of delivery to the front, in partnership with the Home Command.

(2) If you have the space, let us know of your readiness to offer home hospitality, for how many people, for what period.

(3) It can be assumed that once cease-fire will be established, the forces will remain in battle readiness for an additional three-four days. The above suggestions are therefore relevant probably till the end of the month, Thursday, July 31. Of course we may be pleasantly surprised and the tension may relax sooner. Or we may be surprised in the opposite direction and the shelling of the terrorist groups may linger on for a few days more.

Friends, if you wish to act, you have an opportunity.

I am certain that we all join in the prayer for a speedy and successful ending of the present Gaza campaign.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved families who lost loved ones in our defensive action against the terrorists.

May they be comforted by the conviction and the sense of pride that their dear ones died for the noble and sacred cause of defending the only Jewish Homeland on the globe in the millennial Land of our Fathers,

Shalom, Shalom lakarov velarachok -- Peace, Peace to those near and to those far.

Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum

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